At Council on 4th November 2020, Cllr Alyson Pugh and I proposed a motion committing the council do deliver a Pension Credit take-up campaign. The motion text explains how this benefit is so under-claimed.

Running this campaign was an election pledge which Cllr Nick Davies and I made, Cllr Pugh and I have worked hard to secure the resources and commitment for it.

Here is the speech I gave in seconding the motion:

As we know, the people on the lowest incomes, and older people, tend to shop locally and spend their money supporting local services. Hairdressers, garages, home tradespeople, hardware stores and other small local businesses enjoy more trade when people have the cash to spare, not to mention cafes and restaurants. We were all urged during August to “Eat out to Help out” – to spend some money enjoying a meal in order to keep the economy moving. Well, I am asking people in Swansea of pensionable age to please, Find out to Help out. Find out what additional income you might be entitled to, because even if you feel you are managing, we really need you to have more cash in your pocket.

If you’re over pension age and on a modest income, you will have a lifetime of budgeting skills and coping strategies. Maybe you’re keeping the heating turned down. Maybe you’re having smaller meals, fewer treats. One thing about lockdown is, in some ways, it’s easy to save money. No taxis to meet up with friends, no social events to buy gifts for or travel to. I’m sure you, like many older citizens all over the UK, are coping very well right now on modest budgets. But I ask you to please consider what you could do with a little more spare money.

Perhaps grown-up children or grandchildren could do with some additional help. Perhaps friends and relations having fallen on hard times themselves could really use your support. Perhaps the local foodbank or other charities supporting those worse off than you could benefit from a donation. Perhaps the home repairs you’ve been putting off for many years could help a builder to keep the wolf from their family’s door. Please, find out to help out.

Many people think they couldn’t possibly be entitled to pension credit, but they may be surprised.

Even If you have another pension, you might still qualify.

You can have substantial savings, and still be eligible.

You can own your own home, and still be eligible.

You may have been told that you don’t qualify for pension credit, and then have been awarded disability benefits. Although the disability benefits will have increased your income, they actually might have also increased your eligibility for pension credit. So, please find out.

Government says that the minimum amount a single person over pension age should have is £173.75 per week. You may think you don’t need this, but local shops and businesses need you to have it, and when lockdown lifts and we can socialise again, you could treat others to a meal out, or a few extra Christmas presents. Eating healthily can be expensive, but it could keep you out of the doctor’s surgery, or even the hospital, in future. So could exercise classes, massages and other things that keep your body and mind in good shape. If you are managing a long-term health condition, the level of pension credit could rise to £240.70 per week. Not only that, but if you get pension credit there are other things you can get even more financial support with, including rent and council tax. Please, don’t wait until something unexpected happens and then find out you’ve been missing out for years – find out now.

Others are claiming this money and finding it makes a huge difference to their lives. They are living in warmer homes, eating better and – lockdowns permitting of course – are able to get out and about to enjoy hobbies and meet with others. It’s only fair that you have these opportunities too.

This campaign is not only about pension credit, although that is its core. Welfare Rights Advisers will be able to look at your whole household situation and see where you might be missing out. Disability benefits are under-claimed. So is Attendance Allowance. If you ceased getting Carers’ Allowance when you reached 65, you can still be classed as a carer, and you might be entitled to more cash as a result. In a recent case, a couple over 70 with disabilities saw their income nearly doubled by our Welfare Rights team.

Some of us here in Swansea council really do understand how stressful and miserable it is to have bills to pay. We understand how hard it is for older people to see younger family members, friends and businesses struggling through these difficult times. We want everyone to be getting all the income they possible can, to be able to care for themselves well, help each other out, support the local economy and enjoy the best life they can. So please, once this campaign begins and the information about how to seek advice is made public, do all you can to encourage those over pension age to get in touch.